February 22nd, 2008

I’ll be at the market this Sat.

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Hi – just another quick note to say I will be at the market this Saturday!! :)

Hope to see you there!!

t xxx

February 14th, 2008

Change of plan: not working this Sat…

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Hi – just a quick note to say that I decided to not work this Saturday…
My stomach is very tight & the discomfort is way too much, I am not sleeping very well. I feel so tired & my feet is swelling. NO-WAY can I work like I want to.

If only you could see me right now, with wacking bags under my eyes…, the face expression-less, walking up the stairs so slowly & uncomfortably, I sure look like an extra from a zombie movie. D might also be able to confirm to you that I’m recently a bit short with the people around me, which is probably not a fantastic state of mind when you’re in a serving sector…!
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I feel so down about going back on my words. I really want to work. I told loads of customers that I’d be there…

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I feel ‘defeat’… I really hate myself when I’m like this… I feel so blue… sob.
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ps: The baby is moving & kicking ALL THE TIME, which is absolutely wonderful, it’s a sign of life, that she’s healthy & active. So I’m not worried. The doctor says that all this movement signifies the baby’s active personality already. So maybe I’m carrying an Olympian Netball Captain or a female Kung-fu Master. – Although the only complaint is that my stomach feels bruised inside with her full-on punches & kicks. Just very uncomfortable all the time…

February 13th, 2008

My first day back this year

Coco&Me - chocolate tart in a shape of a heart with a bird design stamped with cocoa powder

(Don’t forget! It’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow!)

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Saturday 9th of February:

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To be honest, I nearly didn’t do it.

I waddle-walk like a penguin, can’t bend over to pick things up, & I’m very S.L.O.W. at everything I do. All the typical pregnancy discomforts present, staying comfortable becoming a challenge. I really worried if I could ‘do it’, standing in the kitchen for 2 whole days & then standing/ selling outside on a winters day…

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But, my pal A (who’s the girl that started this business with me initially) offered to help me out at the stall on Saturday. If this was anybody-else, maybe I would’ve been weary, but we’re talking about Ms.A, who’s done it before, & I trust her completely. And I also looked forward to spending time with her – so much girly catch-up to do!
She’s a good woman, that A. She was even there waiting at the stall before we arrived, & helped with the setting-up, which I feared would’ve been the most strenuous task for me. (THANK YOU A!)
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The day itself turned out superbly so – I realized once again that the market-life gives me so much pleasure. There were countless “You’re back!!”‘s & “I missed your cakes/ chocolates!!”. So heart-warming. Plenty of “How have you been?”‘s which develops to lengthy chats, exchanging new news. It was exceptionally sweet when the two girls (sisters) who have been regularly spending their pocket money on me the past 2 years, came up & excited said: “We didn’t know you’re pregnant! Really really REALLY happy for you! Wow! Congratulations!! Soooo happy!!!”. They showed true happiness & radiated smiles so natural that only children can do. – it was positively infective.
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Perfect blue sky brought outside many many people & the market was totally buzzing. Thermometer reached 16.6c apparently, & it was the warmest day for this time of year in over a century. The cakes & the chocolates went quickly, & I sold out except for half a dozen raspberry truffles, which got munched to non-existence on the way home.

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Two blog readers came to visit my stall too (seperately). I was so happy to see them! Thank you for coming by guys.

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- Ms.J came to buy a tart for her neighbour (how nice are you!?) & then came back to the stall again later on to buy a brownie! (It was great chatting to you, & I hope to see you again for another chat!) – Ms. J has just excellently written a report on her visit to Broadway Market. Check it out on her blog!
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- And then there was Ms.R in the afternoon, who kindly gave the baby on it’s way it’s FIRST EVER PRESENT!! It’s a very very sweet Miffy book about dreams. It was so pleasantly unexpected & I was lost for words (for once)! THANK YOU! – I made Ms.R sign & date it. It’s gonna be a family treasure!
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Coco&Me

(With so much going on, I didn’t get to photograph the market & it’s beautiful weather, so here is a picture that D took on our way home, just before 5pm, near where we live. – As some of you know, we moved to a new area recently, & as you can tell from the picture, it is on a hill with amazing views across London. (Although our house does not have a wonderful view like this, instead look on to a block of flats…). We are in love with our new area, we often talk about how it’s like KIKI’s town, what with a church at the end of the road just like the film!)

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i’m scheduling to work for another 3 weeks at the market, so I hope to see you there! t xxx

February 4th, 2008

This Saturday 9th of February

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Hello! You got any plans lined up for this coming Saturday?

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Just a quick reminder to everyone that I’ll be trading at the market this Saturday. It’s going to be one of the few times that I’ll be there (for this half of the year atleast…), so can I tempt you to hop along?

Tamami xxx

February 1st, 2008

Children’s Birthday Cake – Trains – with Banana Cake Recipe!

Coco&Me - Children's Birthday Cake - in shape of Trains, with royal icing!

I baked this set of trains for my kid’s best friend’s 4th birthday!

I kept the icing simple with just three colours & as minimal as I can allow it. I stayed away from using sugary gum drops & other store-bought sweets because: One, as a parent I wouldn’t want my 4 year old introduced to those things yet, & Two, icing them is so much cheaper! :)

Coco&Me - Children's Birthday Cake - in shape of Trains, with royal icing!

Handmade paper flags glued to cocktail sticks:

I decided it’s better if the flags were not white. It will be lost in the background, & the coloured flags would add the much needed extra colourfulness that my minimal-icing-ideology doesn’t provide. – But on the other hand, I made more work for myself & D (he helped), as I couldn’t just ‘stamp’ letters on to dark coloured paper (I don’t have white ink), & had to cut each letter out & glue them!

Each child received one train each. It was easily distributed since there was no cutting slices involved. The flags were popular (“I’ve got K!” & so on). Everyone took it home with them!
Coco&Me - Children's Birthday Cake - in shape of Trains, with royal icing!

(At every children’s birthday party we go to, there’ll always be another kid who’d be blowing the candles too! :)
Coco&Me - Children's Birthday Cake - in shape of Trains, with royal icing!

(For the cake board base: I cut cardboard to size & covered it with white baking paper.)

Coco&Me - Children's Birthday Cake - Trains - with Banana Cake Recipe! - NORDICWARE

(Nordicware Train Cake Pan purchased from Lakeland)

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Am I turning in to a right old woman or what?

Because when D spotted the Nordicware Train Cake Pan in the shop, I was soooo happy – like, deliriously, over the moon style! It’s really difficult to find Nordicware here in the UK, & this particular train cake pan had been on my wish-list for over a year. I once spent a whole night trawling the internet to see if anyone sells this in this country but to no avail…

BUT…! Out-of-the-blue, there it was in front of my eyes… SO, readers, hopefully you can understand my cake-fanaticism, & picture me enthusiastically charging my way to the cash-till in nano-second-flat, flared nostrils, seeing nothing but red until I successfully purchased it, until “It-Is-Mine!” (followed by manic laughter – Dr Evil style…)
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This purchase came at the perfect timing too, as the following week I was to make a birthday cake for my son’s best friend. Like always, I test-baked several days before the real bake-day, to remove any uncertainties that could potentially ruin the result. The lessons learnt from the test-bake was valuable:

  • The cake batter must be piped (not dolloped in), so that the batter reaches all intricate detail of this cake pan.
  • Batter must be pasted/ pushed to all the sides with a spatula to avoid ugly air-holes appearing on the train surfaces.
  • Batter must be to the fullest brim to perfectly imprint the cake design.
  • Must use more colours than just white for the icing, unless it’s a snowy scene you’re trying to create.
  • It is best to pipe extra details like ‘grills’ & ‘windows’ or even abstract polka-dots, rather than faithfully outlining/ following the grooves of the cake.
  • Mustn’t pipe too much icing on it because the cake would become too sweet – & I can imagine the parents getting worried about too much sugar consumption! (especially if it’s artificially coloured!)

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After consideration, I decided it should be a banana cake. A boring sponge won’t do (it’ll taste too normal unless there’s a delicious filling layer), nor it shouldn’t be chocolate coloured (the imprinted design wouldn’t be as visible). D suggested ‘marbled cake’ but that’ll just be ‘too busy’ with the intricate designs. – But a banana cake on the other-hand I thought, is gorgeously moist, popular with everyone & should get a nod of approval from the parents as it sounds natural & it uses less refined sugar.

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So here is the recipe for my banana cake. It is a ‘Pâte à biscuit’ sponge method. (whereby the egg is separated – yolk goes in with the sugar, & the whites are whisked to a meringue, before being combined.)
I also added the recipe for the royal icing at the end.

Both recipes are easy-peasy to make!

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MOIST BANANA CAKE RECIPE:

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Ingredients:

(quantities to fill the Nordicware train pan)

200g Ripe bananas
100g Sugar
5 x Egg yolk
5 x Egg whites
100g Sugar (to whisk in to the whites)
150g Plain flour
75g Almond powder
75g Butter
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Prepare in advance the following:

  • Butter the mould (here, it is best to use a pastry brush & slightly melted butter to really get to every intricate details & grooves). And finely flour the mould by sifting it.
  • Melt 75g of butter. Set aside until needed.
  • Pre-sift the plain flour & the almond powder.
  • Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees.

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Method:

  • 1. Slice the 200g of ripe bananas, place them in a mixing bowl & use the electric whisk to purée it.
  • 2. Add the 100g of sugar & whisk it together.
  • 3. Combine the 5 x egg yolks. Then set aside.
  • 4. In another bowl, whisk the 5 x egg whites to a stiff meringue with 100g of sugar.
  • 5. Combine 1/4 of the meringue in to your egg-mixture from step 3.
  • 6. Sift all the dry ingredients (flour & almond powder) in. Combine with spatula.
  • 7. Pour in the 75g of melted butter & combine with spatula.
  • 8. Fold in the rest of the meringue.
  • 9. Put the batter in to a disposable piping bag.
  • 10. Snip the end so that you get a 3mm opening, & start to pipe it in to the intricate details.
  • 11. Then snip a wider opening (say about 1cm), & pipe the rest in.
  • 12. Place in the pre-heated oven of 180 degrees, for approximately 18 minutes. – When time is up, check if it is done by skewering the middle of the cake. If the skewer comes out clean & is warm to the touch, it is done.
  • 13. Take it out of the oven. Place a cake-cooling-rack on top. Grip both cake pan & rack, then reverse it so that the train-mould is on top. Take the cake pan off. The cakes should come out easily. (It is best to cool it right side up, to flatten the bottom of the cakes.)
  • 14. Once the cake has cooled, proceed to make the royal icing.

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ROYAL ICING RECIPE:

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Ingredients:

1 x egg white

125 to 150g of icing sugar

Food colouring

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Method:

  • 1. Whisk the egg white with a table spoon (not with electric mixer as it’ll become ‘too’ foamy) for about 5 minutes.
  • 2. Mix 125g of icing sugar in to the whisked egg whites. This will give you the basic white icing. Experiment with the fluidity depending on wether you want to cover a large surface or wether you would like it to pipe patterns. If you want it to be thicker for piping patterns, gradually mix in more icing sugar. (In my case, I used 150g of sugar in the end, but it’s best to be your own judge here.)
  • 3. If you would like it coloured, add food colouring drop-at-a-time.
  • 4. Put the icing in a piping bag, snip the end off (say 2mm for pattern piping) & pipe away!

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Tip:

If you want several colours to work with, just divide your white icing at step 2 in to however-many-bowls, & then colour each bowl differently.

If the royal icing becomes hard while you’re working, add a few droplets of water to loosen it.

If artificial food colouring worries you, try to find ‘natural’ food colouring in the shops, or you can alternatively try: matcha powder for green, & cocoa powder or instant coffee for brown. (If you know of any other ways to colour naturally, please please let me know!)

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    Happy Baking!

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